What Motivates Us to Take Better Care of Ourselves?

What Motivates Us to Take Better Care of Ourselves?
One of the philosophical principles of naturopathic medicine is that the body has an innate ability to heal itself. Applying this principle to our everyday lives, we have an innate desire to take care of ourselves and to improve our health and sense of wellbeing.  Wouldn’t that mean that deep down we all prefer to eat healthier foods, to exercise daily, and to get enough sleep? Shouldn’t that mean that our default is to be kind to ourselves, to value ourselves, and to honor our needs?  We yearn to be connected to our family or a community, to find meaning in our lives and our work, and to be seen, heard, and loved in our relationships … Why do we choose to be in relationships and situations that limit our innate ability to care for ourselves?
I define self-care as the way in which we listen to and act upon this innate desire to be a better version of ourselves.  In many ways, one could argue that self-care is the cornerstone of our health.  We can visit countless doctors’ offices and take numerous medications and supplements, but if we cannot connect with the part of us that is motivated, inspired and committed to taking care of ourselves, we will continue to struggle in reaching our health goals.
What is it that makes us choose vegetables over candy, taking a walk over watching TV, getting a good night’s sleep over a late night of partying?  What is it that motivates us to end an unhealthy relationship, to leave a safe job for a chance to pursue a dream, or to reach out to a friend when we need help?  It can’t be measured or quantified.  Our motivation can be rated on a scale of one to ten, but the part of us that chooses health over bad habits, dysfunction, stuckness, and negativity cannot be isolated, bottled, marketed, or sold.
I recently read a poem that a friend shared with me.  She had attended a yoga class, and a poem was read; it struck her as helpful, insightful and meaningful.  On reading it, I felt it was a brilliant description of the immeasurable mystery of what drives us … what drives us to make better choices in our lives, to take risks in order to live more meaningful lives, and to open our hearts to connect with others.
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge. 

For a long time it has watched your desire,

Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,

Noticing how you willed yourself on,

Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.


It watched you play with the seduction of safety

And the gray promises that sameness whispered,

Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,

Wondered would you always live like this.


Then the delight, when your courage kindled,

And out you stepped onto new ground,

Your eyes young again with energy and dream,

A path of plenitude opening before you.


Though your destination is not yet clear

You can trust the promise of this opening;

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

That is at one with your life’s desire.


Awaken your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.


–          For a New Beginning

              by John O’Donohue


It is risky to step out of what we know and what is comfortable.  It takes courage to take an unknown or new path.  Taking better care of ourselves can be scary, and uncomfortable at first, and hard.  But that innate part of ourselves that wants balance, health and vitality is our “life’s desire.”  We simply need to take the risk and ignite it.


photo-for-bio-page-cropped-270pxThe Mommy Tune-up is a blog devoted to the busy mom’s pursuit of sanity and good health!


Author Bio

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Dr. Jenn Krebs Rapkin, ND

Dr. Jenn Krebs Rapkin is a naturopathic physician and a mom.  The author of two blogs, she writes about the challenges and benefits of living a healthy and mindful life.  Dr. Rapkin finds insight and humor in the daily experiment we call life, especially in the busy mom’s pursuit of sanity and good health.  If she’s not writing, teaching, or seeing patients, she is feeling equally overwhelmed and overjoyed as the mom of two young children.

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